An Observation is More Than I Can See

2 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT use their five senses and then write about their observations. Student Observation: I can use my senses to help me write about something.

Big Idea

Writers are like scientists when they use all their senses to share their observations.


10 minutes

I have called the children to the rug for our daily writing activity. The purpose of today's lesson is to teach the children that the skill of observation is not just looking at something but using all of the five senses.  In this situation, I have some pictures of people that "look" like scientists.  The pictures are taped to the front board so the children can easily see them.

Boys and girls, take a look at the pictures that I have put on the board.  What do you think these people have in common?  Do you think they look like scientists?  If you only use your eyes, then you might think this is true.  When people only use their eyes to make judgements, they sometimes miss some important information. 

If you used your sense of smell when you walked into this man's work place, you might smell the aroma of bread baking.  Although his jacket is white like a lab coat, this man is a baker. 

Here is a picture of a woman who is also wearing a white jacket.  Does this make her a scientist?  What else makes her look like a scientist?  This lady works at a store and sells make-up.  Maybe she would give you some lotion and you could feel that by using your sense of touch. 

This man uses a tool that makes a lot of noise.  If you walked into his place of work you use your ears to hear his clippers.  This man is a barber.  Can you begin to understand that to be scientists you have to use more than just your eyes to observe?

When I tell you that you will be observing, I mean that you will be using all of your senses to record your information.


20 minutes

Writers, we are learning how to think and write like scientists.  Today, we will be making observations using our senses, particularly by looking, touching and listening.  I am going to show you how to write down your observations so that you can share them with the people around us.

I show the students a feather that I have in my science collection.  I take out a hand lens and carefully study the feather before I do any work on paper. On a piece of chart paper, I draw a copy of that feather with some prompting from my students.  What shape is this feather?  Is it short or long? Thin or wide?  What colors do you see?  Is there a pattern on the feather?  I need to make sure that my drawing includes all of the things that my eyes have seen.  These are our details.

I model for my students so that they know what my expectations are for them.  I want them to use descriptive words and add many details, just like I would if they were writing a story.

After I draw the feather, I begin to label the picture with the words that the children used as prompts: long, thin, brown, black stripes.  I tell the children, "Scientists not only draw what they see, but they also add labels.  A label will teach others more about the object that we are studying."

I am going to pass the feather around for you to touch and to listen to.  When everyone has had a chance to examine the feather more closely, I will ask you to tell me more about the feather using words that describe how the feather feels and sounds. Tell me about how the feather felt when you touched it.  Did it make any sound?   I add these descriptors as labels, too.  Then, I read back the information that has been labeled on the drawing about Observing a feather.

Did you see how carefully I drew out what I observed and added labels?  Scientific writer do this so they can share their findings with the world around them.

Today you will be given an object to draw and label. Remember how our careful observations gave us good ideas for our drawing and labeling.


20 minutes

Today, scientific writers you will get a seashell to observe using your senses to look, feel and listen.  You will need to observe your object carefully so that you can sketch and label what you see so you can share your writing with your friends in class.

I give each child a seashell, a hand lens, and a journaling page.  They will first look at the shell and draw the outline. (Not to trace the object.)  I encourage the children to look at the object many times thinking about the sizes: long or short, thin or wide, and then also thinking about the colors they see.  Each child will color their shell shape with colors that closely match the shell they are observing and then label using the words from the word bank I have added to the board. Some children will feel that they want more information, so they may refer to the Shells Book. As I watch the children work, I select students who seem to best understand the idea of detailed drawings or of labeling and point out what they are doing.  "Let me show you how Ethan is drawing this out.  See how Jaime remember to put labels here?"

When the children feel that they are done, they show their picture to a classmate.  I ask the students to look critically at the drawing to see if they can tell their partner about the drawings at which they are looking.  If they cannot tell much about the drawing, I ask the children what they could say to help their friend make their drawings better.  I want the children to know whether their thoughts are being conveyed in their drawings just like we do during our writing time.